Decriminalizing Human Pain Requires Investing In People, Not Prisons!
Days are long and lack glamour. Darkness and danger are no longer my shadow. Instead, they outline the green eyes underneath the aging facade and eyewear. I’ve grown accustomed to this new look. Hurt people hurt others, but healed people heal.
Days turn into weeks. Weeks into months. Before I knew it, a whole year had passed consumed with a new role. I often marvel at the thought: How does a beloved who once drove herself off a 350-foot cliff being suicidal circle back?
A survivor of violent crimes stemming from assaults from white, brown and black men heal, with obvious battle scars that one can’t cover over, and give back?
A woman who was once married to a Deputy Sheriff/Correctional Officer that went south real quick and press through honoring?
And a mother whose son is finishing time for his crime in state prison and see a great need, a cause worth fighting for?
Sure, being a chaplain helped, but that’s not what restored my sight.
These deep hurts cause people to make poor decisions and become incarcerated. This is what our state prisons are overwhelmed with; people like me, people with deep hurts that were forgotten.
How does one circle back through that trauma to organizing a nonprofit that many say women don’t belong in because of the darkness and danger?
I’m sure if you asked Mother Theresa, she’d say, “I see God in every human being. When I wash the leper’s wounds, I feel I am nursing the Lord Himself. Is it not a beautiful experience?”
Better yet, ask one of my heroes who has done a tremendous job changing the abuses in the correctional system, Terri McDonald, who even looks like my mother equipped with my quirkiness.
God’s amazing like that, you know!
Terri McDonald is President of the Association of Women Executives in Corrections, 24-year veteran of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, who held both titles of Chief Deputy Secretary and Undersecretary.
She’s a former Assistant Sheriff for L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and who holds the esteemed title of Chief Probation Officer with the Los Angeles County Probation Department.
She’s all about doing the hard stuff…
I can’t hold a candle to that resume, nor would I want to; but what I do hold is a life covered in God’s grace, love and transformation that sustained and delivered healing.
Amazing how God turns our insecurities, indiscretions, faulty character traits and behaviors in need of fine tuning into courage, compassion and confidence to walk through crises all for His plan and purpose.
If God’s transforming power can do all of that for me, helping me forgive my assailants and healing my deep emotional hurts, He can and will touch the lives of our incarcerated reentering society.
From Prison To Community – Where Punishment Ends and Healing Begins!
I believe poverty deserves compassion, not punishment. Addiction needs treatment, not a jail sentence. Mental illness requires care, not a cage. And I’m a HUGE supporter of decriminalizing human pain which requires investing in lives, not prisons.
And that requires a whole new mindset and a whole lot of grace. I don’t have all the answers, make multiple mistakes, but I’m a firm believer that God didn’t create and design us to sit back and expect others to initiate change. If we want safer communities and changed lives, we have to put our faith into action and sit in the trenches with them.
The inarcerated’s need to be loved, forgiven and healed is unashamedly obvious!
Blameless and Forever Free Ministries is advocating as Ambassadors of Hope for restorative justice. Restorative justice is responding to crime and violence in a way that transforms the focus through A.R.T.: Shifting punishment to responsibility (Accountability), rehabilitation and restoration (Reintegration), leading to redemption (Transformation).
We are created in God’s image; therefore, we are God’s masterpiece, His work of ART!
We operate believing this ART approach not only holds the offender accountable, but it becomes the very stepping stones leading to healing for all beloveds impacted by crime: our victims, the offenders, the families and our communities. And that includes those working in the criminal justice system.
This illustrates really God’s heart of justice: Valuing all human life while promoting accountability. This cultivates community engagement. Together, it changes the culture, inspires the church, and advances justice reform.
The struggle is just one part of the story. Incarceration IS and will ALWAYS be PART of the STORY!
C.W. Lewis proclaims God’s Absolute Truth perfectly, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”
Blameless is founded on the premise that God’s Great Love Changes Everything. In order to hear, we must listen. Find the need behind the need. Hurt people hurt others, but healed people heal! Listening requires engagement. Engagement understands what happens in prison does not stay in prison!
From Prison to Community – Where Punishment Ends and Healing Begins!
Decriminalizing human pain requires investing in people, not prisons. Blameless and Forever Free Ministries is launching their building campaign to open up a reentry program center built on the gifts and professions of many lives and partners willing to invest in, build up, participate and bring hope and healing to tragic situations for ALL.
That’s Blameless’ mission: Organized to reduce recidivism rates, expand community safety and awareness, and disrupt the cycle of re-offending.
Our goal is to equip beloveds who were incarcerated and lost to live the lives God created and designed them to live; empowering them to live with a purpose.
My silence means I’m tired of fighting. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s the power of using your voice.” Thank you, Michelle Obama.
Until next time…